Amoeblog

The short history of Asian-American television

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 27, 2012 05:30pm | Post a Comment
Since its earliest days, American television screens have never looked much like American reality. Network executives have apparently never been comfortable with too many Asians being on the small screen at one time. Asian sidekicks are cool, Asian guest stars too, maybe an Asian love interest (provided the character is female) There have been only a handful of television shows starring Asians and even fewer with primarily Asian casts. 

Hawaiian Eye

Meanwhile, the internet has become the great democratizer, allowing Asian-Americans (and Canadians) like 
Christine GambitoMichelle Phan, Freddie W, Fung BrosJessica LizamaKev JumbaKevin WuNikki LimoPeter Chao, Ryan Higa, Timothy Traphik DeLaGhettoWong Fu Productions and others to garner millions of followers each and in the process become internet celebrities, if not terrestrial television ones. Nowadays there are far more Asian-American (and Anglo-Asian diaspora) web series than network shows and while television slowly adapts, at this rate it may cease to exist before it even begins to resemble its audience. 

In one corner, consider the web series, which include Alfie the Office DogAway We HappenedAwesome Asian Bad GuysBaby MentalistBFFs, Boystown, Car Discussion with Sung KangChop Socky Boom, Flat3, The FoodThe Ho’s on 7th AvenueHome Is Where The Hans AreI Am Asian, How Are You?, Katana, K-TownKtown CowboysLumina, Manivore, Millions, Mixed Blooms, Model Minority, Mother Lover, Mythomania, Nice Girls Crew, Normal Gays, One Warm Night, On the Clock, Prison Dancer, Riley RewindSilent Terror, Slanted Show, SuperTwins!, The Switch, Trembling Void, That's What She SaidUrban Wolf, Video Game High SchoolWhen it Counts, and others. 

In the other corner, television, which though having existed for many more decades than web series, is rather more anemic. Consider this short timeline of Asian-American television, drawn from network, cable, and syndicated series:

K-Town goes to Youtube - Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 27, 2012 10:32am | Post a Comment
 K-Town opening title

After two years of shopping around to various TV networks, the Jersey Shore-inspired Korean-Americanreality show K-Town has just been picked up -- not by any of them -- but as a Youtube exclusive set to debut July 2nd.




Although the trailer describes it as “The most anticipated reality show of all time” and “the reality show no TV network could show you,” I have to wonder if the people behind it (who brought us Jersey ShoreMob Wives and The Hills, the trailer informs) aren’t trying to put a positive response on network disinterest. With shows like the Skinemax-meets-Magic the Gathering softcore dorkfest that is Game of Thrones barely raising an eyebrow and what with Youtube’s ban on sexually explicit material, animal abuse, drug use, underage drinking and smoking, and bomb making, I doubt that there’s anything on K-Town that wouldn’t fly on cable… except that the enitre cast is entirely Asian-American.

K-Town cast


Since I first published this blog entry, one of the show's producers contacted me and asked me to share his comment:

"I am extremely pleased to have set up the show on Electus' Youtube channel, Loud. They've given us the freedom to to produce the show we wanted, with the cast we feel best represents the K-town culture. TV viewing habits is rapidly shifting to online -- the younger generation doesn't distinguish between digital content vs the traditional "premium" content we think TV & Cable as. With the production value of a network show, by putting K-TOWN online we're looking to the future. Asians may be under-represented in TV, but we are over-represented online. Hopefully, my K-TOWN show will be a bridge to those two realms."